When I think of creating a "personal brand" for myself, I do cringe a little… ok, maybe a lot. Which I find funny because I absolutely love helping OTHER people find their brand identities and embrace their message… but for me? Nah, I’m good!
To be honest, I’ve prided myself on how much people don’t actually know about me. Remaining “mysterious” was the ultimate goal.
“Keep them wanting more”
“Don’t be an over-sharer”
“Ooohh..don't share that, it's too much!”
“Be careful how much you share about yourself, you don’t to give it all away for free”… (lol, take that how you want..!)
I used to tell myself these things allll the time and all of these stand out as huge stories I’ve been told over the years as well.
The fear of being seen - and not accepted is huge for so many people, and I’m definitely an avid member in that club too.
Actually, to take it one step further, I was voted in my high school graduation yearbook: “most likely to lead a secret life”. I thought it was funny at the time - like I was a secret agent or something.. But in reality, it meant a life of keeping to myself and only showing those closest to me my true self.
To be fair, there definitely is a worry for security reasons of how much one should share in detail about their life on the internet..but I think sharing stories vs sharing private information is confusing for most.
I like to do the "legacy test" before I post. I ask myself "is this an image I feel comfortable with being on the internet for years to come?" and "Will I be ok if other people share my image, or use it as a reference about me or my business?"
So here’s the real question. How much is too much? How far do you “have” to dive in to your story to make your client/customer/online community resonate with you? From my experience, it’s not as much as you’d think but it’s also more than you typically feel like sharing.
Telling a good story and allowing others to actually get to know you begins with knowing who you’re talking to first. We’ve all had those people in our lives who can make any average experience relatable to us (regardless if we've experienced it) by the way they speak about it. We also might know the people who drag things out and tell us WAY too much information that had nothing to do with the story in the first place (or so it seems!). They often end up losing us in the process of getting to the point.
Yesterday, after dinner and kids were out of the way, I asked my husband how his day at work was. He said it was pretty good, except there was a big issue with his computer and he found a way to fix it himself. He started to go into detail about this issue, and how he found the directions online, and how it worked out and why it was even an issue to begin with and then he stopped.
Husband: “are you listening?! I hate it when you check out when I’m talking to you”..
I’ll admit, I have a nasty habit lately of thinking he was done with the story long before he actually is…(I also typically have 1000 other things going on in my brain! hands up all my multi-tasking mompreneurs out there!)
Me: “You’re right, I’m sorry.. but I seriously have no idea what you’re talking about and its hard to listen to!”
Then it hit me.
This is what people feel like when they can’t connect to your brand or business. They want to care, because their immediate perception is that your business offers what they want, but as soon as you begin to explain allllll the ins and outs to what you do or offer - the customer checks out. It’s too much, and unless they can see how it effects them in some way, or how they can relate - they’re not going to stick around. Same goes for your business Instagram account.. unless your followers can see right away how you're different than the average _______ (insert job title here) why would they take the risk of following someone they might not connect to?
The moral of this story is that what my husband was saying was super valuable to him, and his coworkers because the problem involved them, not me. But to me - it was all a bunch of jargon and I couldn’t follow along. Sorry hubs!
What we need to be aware of when we’re sharing our stories is HOW our community will relate to what ever it is we’re saying and how to connect the dots between us and them through our words. Think about this before you create anything:
Remember what you, and your community have in common.
USUALLY - it’ll be the common problem that you help them solve. Think of what you thought was a problem, until you solved it - and now are helping others solve that same problem. Speak the language you would as if you were explaining the solution over coffee with 2 of your close friends. Use examples they would understand, but aren’t too “you had to be there” type of jokes. It can also just be your humanness that they are attracted to. Maybe you have a hard time with a very normal tedious task - they would totally be able to relate and will appreciate your willingness to "tell it like it is".
Always think about who is listening, but more importantly - think about who you WANT to be listening. Telling your story, or stories that support your brand is 100% the best use of your time - and I feel like as long as you have a purpose and huge value to the story - it’ll hit home with someone. Adding details is necessary, but adding unnecessary details are not. That filter strengthens with lots of practice, so get to it!
Above all else, remember this
You attract what you put out to the world. Don't post or advertise things that you don't 100% feel passionate about and want more of.
This is a lot! Of course, switching up your "brand voice" or your instagram captions isn't going to happen over night - but making the mindset shift and pushing yourself to share just a little more and a little more will ultimately help you hugely when it comes to connecting with your ideal clients and customers on Instagram.
Surface Level Captions VS Storytelling Captions
EX #1: I posted This photo on my birthday a few weeks ago.
Typical surface level caption:
“It’s a chilly february day over here on the west coast but I’m feeling good! I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday this week also! Hope you guys are having a great day!!” :|….
Story telling caption:
Growing up with a birthday in February, I always felt so envious of my friends who could celebrate in the summer. Pool parties, beach parties, BBQ’s.. all the things you CANT do for a February birthday. It may be -2 and calling for snow this week, but I am determined my birthday will be a celebration I look forward to, just as much as those summer days. The weather wont hold me down!!!
Insight: SO, a big visual difference is the length of the post. And I have had lots of my followers and clients ask me if sharing stories means they have to make long posts.. definitely not! Impact in captions can be made with very little words sometimes. It’s an attitude, and it's personality. The first caption gave very little insight to me, or my life. It feels surface, and lazy. Sharing just a little morsel of information about how I FELT growing up with a February birthday was enough to connect me to my community. Maybe they feel the same?! Or maybe they can sympathize because their summer birthdays rock?! Either way. It’s not a novel, but it is a bit longer and more insightful than the first caption.
EX #2: Selfie I took with my iPhone.
Typical surface level caption:
“I love my new hair done by my friend @______! She always makes me look good.
Story Telling Caption:
“Wooo!! New hair! Getting my hair done always sparks my motivation to get a new head shot photo. I do try and use my pro camera, but sometimes pulling out my iPhone is as far as I go. For this shot I sat down beside the window in my bedroom and against a blank wall. Natural light is ALWAYS the way to go!! One thing I always remind myself to do is to look at the “camera”!! It’s the little black dot at the top of your phone, NOT your screen. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Insight: I took it further than the first caption, but I think it shows my personality just as much as the photo does. I wanted to give my community value and still allow them to “hear” me speak. Using words like WOO!! or Hell YA! or YAAAAAS. all of those I use in real life, so its natural for me to use them online as well. Then of course, adding the little selfie tutorial will add value to
TSLC: Working from home means I get to drink wine, eat chocolate and hopefully not make too many spelling errors! Happy Saturday night!
Storytelling: You guys do your business planning with wine and chocolate too, right?? Saturday nights sure have changed over the years :P
Insight: These two are similar, but my storytelling caption was written as if I was talking over a glass of wine with a friend VS. saying exactly what was going on in the photo - in my caption. My followers have eyes, they can see what the photo looks like so no need to be super literal. I also think it adds personality to an otherwise generic photo. Generic isn't the issue - because I want my followers to be able to relate, but adding in my voice makes it that much better. (In my opinion!)
TSLC: I love getting outside with my kids when it's this nice out! We had an awesome walk in the empty land next to us. Hope you guys had a great weekend!
Storytelling: Teamwork!... until someone's doing it wrong...
Insight: This image was so great on it's own that I didn't want to overcrowd it with tons of words. As a parent, watching your kids do something together as a team is so rare sometimes :P I wanted to speak to that and create a bit of humour/insight with my caption. It's a lot shorter than the typical surface level caption and it gives more personality.
Do you have a post you want some help with? Find me on Instagram @lindynwilliams and send me a DM. I'm happy to help caption with you - and guide you to find your voice online!
If you felt this super duper long form blog was worth your time - let me know! I am currently creating an online e-course specifically for this topic and I would love to know how you feel when you create Instagram posts. Feel free to DM me, email me or find me here on facebook and let me know how I can help!